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Listen to Audio (7:29)
"Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I like scoring 87 a lot better than I like scoring 48. It gives you a little more heart attacks during the game going up and down like that, but I like that a lot better. I thought Kendall and Dexter, Steve gave me a stat that I like, they had 18 assists before either one of them scored a basket and Kendall only scored one anyway. And I think that’s something that you’ve got to have is guards that will be able to share the ball. I could have even been better, Kendall had sleep for a little spell in there. He had two or three turnovers in a row, but I thought Z was really something for us inside.
"I thought our defense was pretty doggone good except we didn’t do a very good job against Stoglin. He’s hard to guard. He’s hard to keep in front of you. He and Kendall are going to have some big-time matchups. Kendall better get better defensively a lot quicker, and use his length a little bit more, but it was the kind of game I thought it would be. Gary’s clubs they play so hard all the time. They like to push the ball. We like to think we play hard. Sometimes I think we do. Sometimes I don’t. We do like to push the ball, and we like to let kids play going up and down the court, and we both try defensively, but sometimes some of the offensive talent takes over.
"I don’t think either team was real sharp. The ball wasn’t going in the basket for everybody, but it was a very hard fought game against a club that I really like. I think that Gary always does a good job. We call him Whacko for a reason, but he’s really a very good friend, a big-time coach, and has that team with two freshman guards really doing some nice things too, You look down there again and see 18 assists, the two guards, and John 15 rebounds and seven block shots. He does do a lot of damage inside, and he takes away some of the other team’s inside threat. You like for the other team to shoot 41-percent, but you’d like to shoot better than 40, and let that be a good explanation of the whole game for us. It’s a good win and we are very pleased that we were able to get it.”
How much better can this team still get?
“I think this team can still get a lot better. I really do. I think that for some reason you know and it probably speaks for poor coaching. I didn’t want us to start freezing the ball there at the end. I just wanted us to move more, and all of a sudden it looked like we were delaying the game. You know we turned it over. Leslie turns it over, throwing it inside.
"Harrison tries to split a double team when they flat hedge, they going to hard hedge, so it shouldn’t be there to begin with. Kendall turns it over twice on the break. We miss two layups, so all those things I think can get a lot better. Defensively is where we’ve got to continue to improve. We did some nice things in the first half. We had 15 offensive rebounds. The second half we only had five. We can get better.”
Listen to Audio (6:44)
So you’re now in the last week and a half of your college season. How has it developed? What have you learned maybe about yourself? As we get down here on the home stretch are you tired at all?
“Not too tired. I’ve been trying to get a lot of rest, keep my body fresh, but it’s been an up and down season. We’ve been through a lot as a team. Individually we’ve all gone through our struggles, but the biggest thing is you got to continue to stay in the gym. You got to continue to work hard. That will all lead to success in the end.”
It seemed like this team particularly you didn’t necessarily care how close they were defending. You seemed like you were real comfortable shooting the ball whether you were contested or not. Did you kind of have a different mindset coming in tonight?
“We knew I had to be aggressive. We knew that they were going to try to come out, and try to hit us in the face early, just be really physical. Trying to just come out really aggressive at the start of the game. I feel like my teammates feed off that.”
Listen to Audio (3:32)
What was the key for you tonight to kind of get going offensively?
“Well I was feeling pretty good in pre-game about my shot, so I knew I was going to hit shots tonight. The main focus was to play their guards tough. You know get in there and scrap, get charges, get steals, and my offensive game was going to come.”
You were able to get more assists than you have been able to get in the last few games or so. Were they playing you differently than other teams have been playing you?
“I wouldn’t say so. You know a lot of my assists today came from getting out on the break, and just feeding it in to Z, and he was making moves and finishing. Most of the time when I was driving I think it only happened twice where I got in there, and a big helped over. So they’re still playing me the same way I’ve been played the last couple of games where they want me to make plays when I get into the paint, but my teammates they did a great job knocking down shots.”
On staying focused as a team the next two games.
“Just going in with the mentality we had today. Florida State down there is a tough place to play. They beat Duke there when they were the number one team in the country. We know they’re going to be ready. Everybody’s realizing that it’s one game at a time, one game at a time. That’s what we keep telling each other in the huddles you know out on the court, breaking the games up into four-minute segments. Just trying to win four minutes at a time, and just stuff like that to stay focused.”
Listen to Audio (5:18)
Going into this game tonight a lot of people that looked at it as it’s got to be Tyler Zeller versus Jordan Williams. How did you approach it knowing what he had done thus far?
“I just approached it like another game. He’s a fantastic player. He can do a lot of special things, but you just got to approach it like another game, maybe just a little more focused because he is as good as he is. And hopefully you play better than him.”
On Eric Montross’ helpful advice.
“Eric’s a great friend of mine. He’s always told me I don’t realize how big I am. I think I’m starting to get there, but I know I have a long ways to go.”
Listen to Audio (6:59)
"We knew coming in we were going to have to really work hard, especially in the rebounding area. Not just because of their size, but the way they go after the glass. They really do a good job of that on the offensive glass. We weren't able to get done what we did last game so we got hurt there. But, early on, I just thought that it wasn't one of our better starts in terms of our effort, just being aware, being alive, that's kind of where it came from. But, you know, that's the way it was.
"Once you get behind like that it's really hard when you burn that much energy just to try to, first of all, keep that game in striking distance, and then try to make a comeback. So, we had to try to get some things turned around. I thought we did a pretty good job in the second half, but you know you go down by 12 at halftime to a good team it's not going to be easy coming back and you know, we had a good couple chances to get it under 10 but we never seemed to be able to connect on that particular play when we were in the situation...
"Dino Gregory's really been brining it defensively and working hard and Jordan Williams has had the year he had. And Terrell Stoglin has, you know, really been stepping up for us in the backcourt. You know, those guys, they gave the effort in the second half, which we needed for forty minutes, and we just couldn't get it tonight in a game we wanted to win. But, we just didn't get it to the point where we could win the game."
On Dean Smith:
“I’d just like to say congratulations to Coach Smith on his 80th birthday tomorrow. He’s one of the guys when I was an assistant coach at Lafayette, I’d see him at camps or whatever in the summertime and he always had time to talk. Not just to me, but to a lot of young coaches, so I think there are a lot of coaches out there who all owe Coach Smith a great deal for what he did for the game and what he did for coaches. I just wanted to say that.”